IPL 2019: Mumbai Indians and their road ahead
Cricket fever is well and truly on. We are almost halfway into IPL 2019, and the competition is getting very strong.
The current points table situation tells a story on its own, and there are surely going to be many twists and turns in that story in the days to come. Almost all teams have played six of their 14 matches, and CSK, KKR, KXIP and SRH currently are the top four teams.
Mumbai Indians, who are fifth at the moment, have registered two consecutive wins and still stand a very strong chance to get into the knockout stages. Next in line are the young side of Delhi Capitals, who could also make the cut.
However, the last two sides, RR and RCB, are almost out for the season. While RR still have an outside chance of making it, RCB are certainly not going to reach the playoffs after losing six out of six.
Before the season started, KKR, CSK, MI and SRH were said to be the major contenders. And just like the predictions, all four teams are right up there. While CSK and KKR are already in their groove, winning match after match with ease, MI seem to be finding their groove now, after suffering two defeats in their first three matches.
Mumbai Indians have a strong team, and after two consecutive wins against two quality sides, they will be looking to build on their momentum and start their golden run in this IPL.
However, they need certain things to fall in their favour in order to execute their plans correctly and win as many matches as possible going forward. Here's a look at the major areas of concern for the Mumbai-based team:
In the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Hyderabad, Mumbai defended a paltry total of 136. It was a tremendous bowling effort from their bowlers, as they bundled SRH out for just 96.
But MI do need their batsmen to take some serious responsibility especially up at the top, as the bowlers won't have a lucky outing in every match. One or more of the top order batsmen have been failing regularly, putting pressure on the middle order.
Mumbai have been lucky because of Hardik Pandya's form, who has been splendid with the bat; Hardik to Mumbai is what Russell is to KKR this season. However, there will be days when the middle order won't score big. On such days, a solid start from the top 3 or 4 becomes very important.
Rohit Sharma's form
Rohit Sharma has been in decent form this season, but hasn't fully showcased the touch he is known for. In the last couple of matches, he has not even survived 20 balls.
Sharma will have to step up with the bat and start scoring significant runs, if he wants to ensure that MI reach the playoffs.
Moreover, Sharma's form is very important to the Indian national side, who will need their marquee opener to have that irrepressible touch going into the World Cup that follows the IPL.
Responsible No. 4
This spot is a bit of a worry for Mumbai Indians. The first four matches saw Yuvraj Singh play at that position. He did score a 50 in the first match, but in the next three matches his performance was below par, scoring an aggregate of just 45 runs.
Yuvraj was excluded in the fifth match of the season for Ishan Kishan. However, Kishan could not contribute much either.
It is very important for Mumbai to find the right No. 4, as that is the position that bridges the top order with the middle order.
So far, it has been the bowling that has been winning matches for Mumbai. The bowling attack has really come together, and that was very evident when Mumbai got the SRH batting out for just 96.
They need this bowling effort to continue right until the end. If it does, then Mumbai Indians will surely be making it to the knock-outs, and will be the team to beat from there on.
If Mumbai are successful in weaving their team together and focusing on these aspects, they have a bright and strong road ahead of them. Who knows, by the end of the tournament they might even keep their peculiar pattern of winning the trophy every alternate year alive.